Debate: Would you go abroad for surgery?

Many people cross the Canada-U.S. border for knee and hip replacements because of waitlists and expense. But what about travelling

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Many people cross the Canada-U.S. border for knee and hip replacements because of waitlists and expense. But what about travelling for a surgery that isn’t approved in your home country?

The New York Times reported that many Americans are coming to Canada to get a small balloon-like device inserted into their stomachs. Intragastric balloons ‘ introduced in Canada in 2006 ‘ have yet to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The saline-filled balloon is inserted through the esophagus and floats freely in your stomach, taking up space so you feel full quicker. This procedure is popular amongst patients that want to lose weight (less than 50 pounds) but do not qualify for a more invasive surgery such as gastric banding or bypass, and those that must lose weight prior to surgery.

Studies have shown the device has resulted in patients losing at least 10 percent in excess body weight over one year, when combined with diet and exercise. It may not seem like much, but a 10 percent reduction significantly lowers the risk of getting obesity-associated diseases such as diabetes.

Intragastric balloons are short-term weight-loss solutions as they remain in the stomach for six months at a time. Many patients gain the weight back upon removal, while others opt to have a second balloon inserted.

It’s complications such as the balloon rupturing and causing intestinal obstruction, ulcers and infections, that have left the FDA unconvinced of its safety and efficacy.

Would you go abroad for surgery if the procedure wasn’t approved in your home country?

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‘Amy Crofts, web intern

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